insideKENT Magazine Issue 59 - February 2017 - Page 62

TOWNSPOTLIGHT Canterbury Cathedral Spotlight on Marlowe Theatre River Stour CANTERBURY IF THERE IS ANY CITY IN KENT THAT IS AS FULL OF HISTORY, HERITAGE AND BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS AS CANTERBURY IT WOULD BE HARD TO NAME IT. CANTERBURY, THE SEAT OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND, THE PLACE WHERE PILGRIMS FLOCKED (AND MODERN DAY VISITORS STILL DO) IS A REMARKABLE AND UNIQUE PLACE TO BE. BY LISAMARIE LAMB HISTORY IN BRIEF Canterbury was originally (in the first century AD) an Iron Age settlement. Even back then it was considered special. It was an incredibly important place for the Cantiaci, the local Celtic tribe, to meet and live. It wasn’t long before the Romans invaded Britain, and they immediately seized on Canterbury as being the perfect place to start building. Starting in 43AD, the Romans razed the Cantiaci’s primitive dwellings and created their own, much more sophisticated buildings. In honour of the first people to live there, the Romans named the place Durovernum Cantiacorum. And so Canterbury began to grow. Canterbury was all but abandoned by 407AD. All that was left were a few farmers, and many of the buildings were left to fall into ruin. This may have continued but for the fact that Pope Gregory sent Augustine and a contingent of 40 monks to Britain in 597AD. He was to meet with the king of Kent, Ethelbert, and begin attempting to convert the nation to Christianity. Since Augustine landed on the Kent coast, in Thanet, Canterbury was a good place for him to begin his monumental mission. As soon as he chose Canterbury, it began to thrive again. People moved there to be closer to the action, and tradesmen and craftsmen came to be part of the rebuilding of what would be the county’s capital. Soon there were homes, inns, shops and more – including a mint. Since then (despite being raided by both the Danes and the Normans, and despite Henry VIII taking a dislike to the monasteries) Canterbury has gone from strength to strength, growing more and more fascinating as the years go by. 62